Locust Grove Mennonite Church Child Protection Policy
3358 W. Main Street, Belleville PA 17004
A. To help Locust Grove Mennonite Church provide a caring, safe and secure environment for children in all phases of church life.
B. To be in compliance with the Pennsylvania Child Protective Service Law, (CPSL title 23 PA. C.S. Chapter 63) as amended December 2013.
C. To mitigate Locust Grove Mennonite Church’s legal risk and liability exposure.
II. Biblical Foundation:
Locust Grove Mennonite Church seeks to express God's love of children and provide for their personal wholeness. This caring community seeks to prevent child abuse of any form to our children and youth and to minister to victims of abuse and their families. The Bible is foundational to our understanding upon which all policies, procedures, and ministries must stand. (Matt. 10:13-16, Matt. 18:5-7)
Our goal in response to these Biblical mandates is to maintain a safe, secure, and loving place where children may grow, and a place where caregivers, teachers, and leaders (either employed or volunteering) will minister appropriately to their needs.
III. Child Abuse Prevention Policy
Locust Grove Mennonite Church DESIRES TO BE A SAFE PLACE FOR ALL CHILDREN AND ADULTS WHO ATTEND ANY ACTIVITY. Individuals they know and trust sometimes victimize children. The church is not immune to such abuse, either by its members or by those in leadership positions, incidents of child abuse or neglect cut across racial, social, economic and religious boundaries. Although no organization or individual can assure complete protection, this Child Abuse Prevention Policies and Procedures Manual reflect Locust Grove Mennonite Church’s commitment to help to protect children from harm. This manual applies to all volunteers and compensated workers of Locust Grove Mennonite Church.
Locust Grove Mennonite Church will not tolerate child abuse or neglect. Your cooperation in this commitment not only reflects your concern about children's safety in this society, but also your willingness to take steps toward halting child abuse and its detrimental effects.
For the safety and protection of our children and workers, all people who participate in church-sponsored activities with children are required to comply with the guidelines provided in this manual.
In this manual the following definitions apply:
A. Adult - Any person age 18 or older.
B. Adult Caregiver – Any compensated or volunteer worker age 18 or older.
C. Assistant Caregiver – Any compensated or volunteer worker age 13 to 17.
D. Caregiver - Any compensated or volunteer worker, seventh grade or older.
E. Child - Any person age 12 and younger.
F. Child Abuse – See ‘consents’ sheet.
The following are “per se” acts of child abuse (meaning the act itself, apart from the outcome, is considered child abuse).
(a) The employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement or coercion of a child to engage in or assist another individual to engage in sexually explicit conduct, which includes, but is not limited to, the following:
i. Looking at the sexual or other intimate parts of a child or another individual for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire in any individual.
ii. Participating in sexually explicit conversation either in person, by telephone, by computer or by a computer-aided device for the purpose of sexual stimulation or gratification of any individual.
iii. Actual or simulated sexual activity or nudity for the purpose of sexual stimulation or gratification of any individual.
iv. Actual or simulated sexual activity for the purpose of producing visual depiction, including photographing, videotaping, computer depicting or filming.
(b) Any of the following offenses committed against a child (Criminal code)
I. Rape, as defined in 18 PA.C.S. § 3121 (relating to rape).
II. Statutory sexual assault, as defined in 18 PA.C.S. § 3122.1 (relating to statutory sexual assault).
III. Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, as defined in 18 PA. C.S. § 3123 (relating to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse)
IV. Sexual assault, as defined in 18 PA.C.S. § 3124.1 (relating to sexual assault).
V. Institutional sexual assault, as defined in 18 PA.C.S. §3124.2 (relating to institutional sexual assault).
VI. Aggravated indecent assault, as defined in 18 PA.C.S. § 3125 (relating to aggravated indecent assault).
VII. Indecent assault, as defined in 18.PA.C.S. § 3126 (relating to indecent assault).
VIII. Indecent exposure, as defined in 18 PA.C.S. § 3126 (relating to indecent exposure).
IX. Incest, as defined in 18 PA.C.S. § 4302 (relating to incest).
X. Prostitution, as defined in 18 PA.C.S. § 5902 (relating to prostitution and related offenses).
XI. Sexual abuse, as defined in 18 PA.C.S. § 5902 (relating to sexual abuse of children).
XII. Unlawful contact with a minor, as defined in 18 PA.C.S. § 6318 (relating to unlawful contact with a minor).
XIII. Sexual exploitation, as defined in 18 PA.C.S. § 6320 (relating to sexual exploitation of children).
(c) Any recent act or failure to act is defined as occurring within the last two years.
This paragraph does not include consensual activities between a child who is 14 years of age or older and another person who is 14 years of age or older and whose age is within four years of the child’s age.
Leaving a child unsupervised with an individual, other than the child’s parent, who the actor knows or reasonable should have known:
G. Compensated Worker - Hourly, salaried, part-time or full-time employee who works with children at any church-sponsored activity.
H. Corporal Discipline - Any discipline applied to the body including, but not limited to slapping, spanking, pinching, pulling or squeezing.
I. Mandated Reporter
(a) General rule. Under 23 Pa.C.S. § 6311 (relating to persons required to report suspected child abuse), licensees who, in the course of the employment, occupation or practice of their profession, come into contact with children shall report or cause a report to be made to the Department of Public Welfare when they have reasonable cause to suspect on the basis of their professional or other training or experience, that a child coming before them in their professional or official capacity is a victim of child abuse.
(b) Staff members of public or private agencies, institutions and facilities. Licensees who are staff members of a medical or other public or private institution, school, facility or agency, and who, in the course of their employment, occupation or practice of their profession, come into contact with children shall immediately notify the person in charge of the institution, school facility or agency or the designated agent of the person in charge when they have reasonable cause to suspect on the basis of their professional or other training or experience, that a child coming before them in their professional or official capacity is a victim of child abuse. Upon notification by the licensee, the person in charge or the designated agent shall assume the responsibility and have the legal obligation to report or cause a report to be made.
J. “Two Adult Rule” and “Rule of Three” – Two adult caregivers must be present at
every function and enclosed area during all activities involving children, youth, or
vulnerable adults. For times when this precaution cannot be supported, at least
three individuals, at least one being an adult must be present at every function and
in each classroom, vehicle, or other enclosed area during all activities involving
children, youth or vulnerable adults.
K. Volunteer Worker - Any non-compensated or volunteer worker, age 13 and older.
L. Youth - Any person between the ages of 13 and 17.
V. Increasing Child Safety and Reducing the Risk of Child Abuse
In an effort to create the safest possible environment within Locust Grove Mennonite Church, the following abuse prevention and safety measures will be used:
A Active Attendees for One Year
Volunteer workers must be active attendees and have been members or regular attendees of Locust Grove Mennonite Church for at least one year prior to the time they begin serving with children in church- sponsored activities.
B. Staff Screening – Approved adult – Legal Disqualifications- PA #6344 (c)
The following procedures reflect Locust Grove Mennonite Church’s commitment to provide protective care for all children and workers who participate in church sponsored activities.
There are three required specific clearances in Pennsylvania for employees and volunteers working with children.
1. Pennsylvania State Police request for criminal record check forms
2. PA child abuse history.
3. F.B.I. Fingerprint Record
a. If a volunteer has lived in PA for the past ten years, no
fingerprinting is required. However, the volunteer must
submit or affirm in writing that they are not disqualified
from service based on a conviction of offense under 6344.
b. Employees whenever hired will be required to repeat all of
the above clearances every 36 months. Volunteers will only need to repeat the PA clearances once they meet the 10 year residency rule. In other words, a volunteer who has not lived in PA for 10 years when it is time to repeat clearances will still require an FBI fingerprint check repeat as well.
C. All volunteer workers must complete the following procedures when participating in any church sponsored child or student activity.
a. Complete a standard volunteer application and disclosure form.
b. Provide references that ministry leaders will contact if volunteer worker has attended Locust Grove for less than three years.
c. Attend orientation/training activities appropriate to the level of the volunteer or compensated worker involvement.
d. Sign a written acknowledgment stating they have received and reviewed a copy of the Child Abuse Prevention Policies and Procedures Manual of Locust Grove Mennonite Church.
e. All church employees, compensated workers and adult caregivers are subject to background checks for the purpose of obtaining information regarding criminal history or child abuse findings. Applications and the results of any screening will be kept confidential by authorized church staff.
D. Two-Caregivers Rule
At least two adult caregivers must be present at every function or program involving children. However, for the times when this precaution cannot be supported, at least three individuals (including two caregivers, one being an adult caregiver) must be present at every function (Rule of Three). For large group gatherings of children, the number of adult supervisors must be in accordance with the Pennsylvania state student/teacher ration requirements, which is 15.2 students to 1 teacher.
E. Child Information
Names of children, their parents/guardians, emergency contact information and medical conditions are kept on file.
All teachers and workers will use the following discipline measures. If a child is behaving inappropriately, the teacher or worker will tell the child specifically what he/she is doing that is not acceptable and state what the expected behavior is, i.e., "We do not throw blocks. We use blocks for building." If this measure is not effective, the child will be guided to another activity. If inappropriate behavior continues, the child may be placed at a distance to facilitate time alone, away from the other students, while still under supervision of the caregiver. If the child's disruptive behavior continues after these steps have been taken, the child may be taken to the Ministry Director or parent. No corporal discipline, verbal abuse or ridicule are to be used at any time. Disciplinary problems should be reported to the ministry activity coordinator or supervisor, and to a parent or guardian.
G. Supervisory Staff/Premises Monitors
Supervisory staff should be present to ensure that each class is properly staffed, and monitor classroom activities and interactions. Premises monitors may patrol hallways and common areas, observe classrooms and activity areas through windows or open doors on a roving basis.
H. Volunteer Presence
Volunteer workers should arrive at least 10 minutes before a scheduled activity. They must remain at their assigned post until all children in their care have been safely dismissed.
I. Parent/guardians are welcome to observe large group assemblies and activities, however only approved volunteers may supervise smaller groups of children during Sunday school classes and activity station rotations. Parent/guardians should wait for their children in designated areas. In special cases, parents may contact the Children’s Ministry Coordinator to request permission to accompany their child throughout a ministry experience.
K. Driving Policies
The designated leader of the event must know each person designated to provide automobile or van transportation to or from church. The driver must:
L. Overnight trips
Situations where staff members are taking children or young people out of the area for long periods of time or for overnight outings are to be carefully planned. Only known, proven staff will be permitted to sponsor/chaperone the trips. New staff or volunteers may be used as additional sponsors, but shall not be left alone with the children or young people in a situation where there is no other caregivers to observe (“Two Adult Rule” or “Rule of Three”). In no circumstance will one adult be allowed to take children or youth on an overnight outing.
M. Parental Inclusion
Locust Grove Mennonite Church acknowledges that parents hold primary responsibility for the spiritual upbringing of their child. Ministry leaders desire to partner with and support parents in this role and will strive to keep parents well informed and an active part of all ministry programming and events.
VI. Age-Specific Guidelines for Working with Children
Caregivers should follow the below guidelines when working with specific age groups of children:
B. Early Childhood Ministry (Pre-preschool children, ages two, three, and four.)
C. Children's Ministry (Preschool through Sixth grade)
D. Youth Ministry (Seventh Grade Through Age 18)
Age of Consent Issues in Pennsylvania
Locust Grove Mennonite Church maintains that sexual activity belongs solely within the marriage covenant between one and one woman for life. Living within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it is important for us to be cognizant of the legal understanding of lawful and unlawful sexual activity. This is described within the “Age of Consent” statutes.
The idea behind “an age of consent” is to determine that a minor under a certain age is not able to legally consent to sexual activity. The theory is that he/she isn’t able to meaningfully understand the consequences and have the ability to say no to an older partner with authority or power, who can overwhelm objections. Therefore, the law determines that the minor did not effectively consent, even though no force was used and the participation in the sexual activity was willing. For PA criminal law, sexual activity with someone less than 13 is without qualification a criminal act, i.e. rape. The sexual assault statute, and some other sexual crimes, also say that sexual activity with one under 16 is a criminal offense, unless the other party is within four years of the same age as the “complainant.” The idea is that a similar age has a greater likelihood that there is not an authority or power differential that would cause the “complainant” to submit even when no really willing. “under 16” carries with it, “but at least 13” in this context because the standard for under 13 is not qualified by the age of the other party.
In PA there is, sitting side by side with the criminal law, the child abuse system. Criminal complaints are handled by police and the courts; child abuse is handled, at least initially, by the county Child Protective Services office. The definition of child sexual abuse specifically excluded “consensual activities between a child who is 14 years of age or older and another person who is 14 years of age or older and whose age is within four years of the child’s age.” The idea is that real consent without a power imbalance is what matters for that age range. This definition is only for the purposes of investigating child abuse, and child abuse perpetrators may or may not ever become involved in the criminal justice arena. These are separate systems of law, and 13 year olds are protected by both.
VIII. PA Mandatory Reporting Procedures
When to Report
The following two items require a report, regardless of whether the child is under the care of the reporter, or the church:
How to Report
1-800-932-0313 OR filing electronically at the PA Portal https://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis/Public/home
If Locust Grove Mennonite Church receives an allegation of child abuse it will respond with the utmost concern to the victim, parent, or other party making such an allegation. The accused will be treated with dignity and support. Without clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, Locust Grove Mennonite Church personnel will assume that such complaints are made in good faith. Persons making such complaints should have no doubt that Locust Grove Mennonite Church takes them seriously and will take appropriate action.
When reporting suspected child abuse or neglect, the protection of children must be the most important concern. It is the legal responsibility of any person with responsibility for the care of children to report all cases of Child abuse they observe, and further, to report visible signs of alleged abuse. Failure to report could lead to liability on the part of the church, the observer or both. Locust Grove Mennonite Church has determined that it is the responsibility of the program staff to report all cases of suspected child abuse to the proper legal authorities. While the confidentiality of the-pastor/parishioner relationships is very important, reporting reasonable, suspicion of child abuse has the potential for helping individuals receive help for a previous-problem and may prevent further harm to a child, that person or others.
The following guidelines will be followed for dealing with suspected cases of abuses:
A. Treat each allegation of child abuse seriously.
B. Immediately report the appropriate state office of the allegation.
C. Attempt to assure the safety and protection of persons who may have been harmed.
D. Pray for the church and all persons affected by the allegation.
E. Immediately begin documenting all procedures observed in handling the allegation. (Such information will include child's name, date of incident, when reported, description of incident, action taken, adult witness, were parents notified and how, signed and dated by person completing information.
F. Immediately notify the pastor and responsible leaders in the area of ministry affected by the allegation. The pastor, or delegated minister, will initiate an internal investigation of the allegations within 24 hours of notice.
G. Immediately notify the parents if it is not known that they have previous knowledge of the allegations.
H. Immediately notify the church's insurance company. As appropriate, the responsible minister shall immediately notify the church's insurance carrier of the possibility of a claim. If the abuse allegation does not implicate a church staff member or church volunteer, this step may be omitted.
I. The pastor should extend whatever care and resources necessary. In providing care to the principals (alleged victim and the accused) and their families, the pastor or church leader should under no circumstances be drawn into a discussion of the truth or falsity of the allegation, which could contaminate an official investigation. Do not assign blame or take any steps that involve establishing or negating the allegation.
J. Observe confidentiality for both the alleged victim and the accused until advised to the contrary by the pastor.
K. Do not confront the accused until the safety of the child or student is secured.
L. Do not prejudge the situation, but take the allegations seriously and reach out to the alleged victim and his or her family. Showing care and support help to prevent further hurt. Extend whatever pastoral resources are needed. Remember that the care and safety of the alleged victim is the first priority. In some situations, churches have responded in a negative or non-supportive manner to the alleged victim. This can increase the anger and pain of the alleged victim and his or her family. Further reconciliation can then be more difficult and the possibility of damaging litigation increases.
M. Treat the accused with dignity and support. If the accused is a caregiver, that person should be relieved temporarily of his or her duties until the investigation is completed.
N. If the media or other parties contact a church official about a pending allegation of child abuse, they should be referred to the pastor. Only the pastor or his designee should make comments about the allegations. Pastor will use the text of a prepared public statement to answer the press and to convey news to the congregation. The prepared statement shall be made only after consultation with the church's attorney and will include the steps the church has taken to protect children, such as the development and implementation of this manual, and the care and concern the church has for all parties involved. The privacy and confidentiality of all involved shall continue to be of primary concern.
Important Contacts and Their Phone Numbers
National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD
Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare: (800) 932-0313
Mifflin County Children & Youth Social Services: (717) 248-3994
XI. Review and Revision of Policy
A. Upon entering a field of service, volunteers will receive a written copy of this policy. The policy will be reviewed publicly at volunteer meetings that occur at the beginning of the Sunday school year, the beginning of the Kids Club season, and prior to VBS week.
B. The leadership of Locust Grove Mennonite Church, with the assistance of a policy committee, will regularly review this policy and the procedures established within it. If necessary, the policies and procedures will be modified in accordance with the bylaws of the organizations. When changes are made, ministry leaders will communicate them to all employees and volunteers affected by the policy changes.
C. The Policy Committee, when regularly reviewing this policy, will question and hold the leadership of Locust Grove Mennonite Church accountable for maintaining and following this written policy.
Appendix 1: Volunteer Application Form
Locust Grove Mennonite Church
Children’s Ministry Volunteer Application
Phone: _______________________________________ Email: __________________________________________________________
May we text you information and updates? o Yes o No
Age range: o 17 or younger o 18-25 o 26 or older
In which children’s/youth program would you like to become involved?
What other children’s/youth work or volunteer experience do you have?
What age group children do you enjoy working with the most?
o Infant o Early Childhood o Lower Elementary o Upper Elementary
o Jr. High o Sr. High o No Preference
Have you lived outside the Commonweath of Pennsylvania in the last 10 years?
Have you been fingerprinted since moving to Pennsylvania?
Have you ever been convicted of or pleaded guilty or no contest to any criminal offense of any kind? o Yes o No
If yes, what was the nature of the offense? __________________________________________________________________
Have you ever participated in, or been accused, convicted or pleaded guilty or no contest to abuse or any sexual misconduct. o Yes o No
Are you aware of:
Having any traits that could pose a threat to children, youth or others? q Yes q No
Any reason why you should not work with children, youth, or others? q Yes q No
If the answer is “yes,” please explain in detail: _____________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Do you have Act 33 and 34 Clearances? (Criminal and Child Abuse) o Yes o No
If yes, please submit a copy of both documents to Locust Grove to keep on file. If you are over 18 years old and do not have these clearances, we may supply you with the necessary forms to obtain them.
If have attended Locust Grove for less than three years, please provide the names and contact information of two non-related people who have a definite knowledge of your qualifications and character.
Name Relationship Contact Phone/Email
_______________________________ _______________________________ ____________________________________________
Children/Youth Work Verification and Release:
I recognize that Locust Grove Mennonite Church is relying on the accuracy of the information I provide on the Children/Youth Volunteer Application form. Accordingly, I attest and affirm that the information I have provided is absolutely true and correct.
I authorize the organization to contact any person or entity listed on the Children/Youth Application form, and I further authorize any such person tor entity to provide the organization with information, opinions, and impressions relating to my background or qualifications.
I voluntarily release the organization and any such person or entity listed on the Children/Youth Volunteer Application form from liability involving the communication of information relating to my background or qualifications. I further authorize the organization to conduct a criminal background investigation is such a check is deemed necessary.
I have carefully read the policy and procedures of the organization, and I agree to abide by them and to protect the health and safety of the children or youth assigned to my care or supervision at all times.
Printed name: _________________________________________________________________________________________________
Signature: _______________________________________________________________________ Date: ________________________
NOTICE TO VOLUNTEERS REGARDING BACKGROUND INVESTIGATION
I understand that a consumer report (background screening report) and/or an investigative consumer report (reference checks and/or interviews) that may include information from public or private sources regarding my character, driving records, criminal history, court records (both civil and criminal), qualifications and experience, work habits, and/or other information relevant to my volunteer service may be obtained in connection with my application as a volunteer with Locust Grove Mennonite Church.
I understand that, if I am approved for volunteer service by Locust Grove Mennonite Church, this background check authorization will be kept on file and may be used at any time during my service to procure further information when, in the judgment of Locust Grove Mennonite Church, such may be necessary.
I hereby release and discharge to the extent permitted by law, Locust Grove Mennonite Church, its employees, any individual or agency obtaining information for Locust Grove Mennonite Church, and any personal or professional reference, from any and all claims, damages, losses, liabilities, costs, or other expenses arising from the retrieving, reporting and/or disclosure of information in connection with this background investigation.
I understand that I am volunteering my services and declare in no way shall I be considered an employee or subcontractor or independent contractor of Locust Grove Mennonite Church.
By signing below, I, , have read, understand and consent to the above. I further authorize that a photographic copy or a telephonic facsimile of this document shall be valid for purposes present and future. My signature below certifies that all information I have provided in connection with this background check is true, accurate and complete to the best of my knowledge.
Print Name (last, first, middle) Social Security Number
Date of Birth (MM/DD/YYYY) Drivers License Number Drivers License State
(For ID Purposes Only)
Any other names I have been known by:
Previous Addresses (Last 10 Years)